We all love our pets and want what’s best for them. When we bring an animal into our lives, there are certain things we expect and prepare for: feeding them, vaccinating them against disease, flea and worm prevention, and additional expenses like beds, collars, toys, and grooming.
But what happens if they get sick or injured?
Although we are aware that our pets may get injured or become ill, we may not be prepared for the costs that can be involved in treating them. Below is an example of some of the illnesses and injuries commonly seen in practice, with estimated treatment costs:
● Skin condition $250–2,500
● Broken bone $2,000–3,000
● Diabetes $3,000+
● Ruptured cruciate ligament $2,500–5,000
● Gastrointestinal surgery $2,000–4,000
● Tumor removal $500–2,000
● Pancreatitis $100–2,000
● Cat blocked bladder $800–1,500
● Cancer $3,000–$10,000
Approximate prices only, in USD
What to consider when choosing pet insurance
If your pet were to become ill or injured, would you be able to cover the cost of their treatment? If the answer is no, then we recommend getting your pet insured. There are many insurance companies to choose from and it can be difficult to know what to look for when choosing coverage for your pet. Here are some things to consider when you are choosing pet insurance, the most important of which is to read the fine print:
Price – Many companies will offer attractively low premiums for the first year, but these can increase significantly in subsequent years or once you have made a claim.
Length of cover – Most companies will cover a condition or illness either for a period of 12 months, or for the life of your pet. Lifetime policies are more expensive, but if your pet develops a long-term condition or a problem that may recur later in life, it will be worth it!
Amount of coverage provided – Check if the insurance company pays out a certain amount per condition, or per year. Use the example costs above to decide if the cover level is appropriate.
Pre-existing conditions – Unlike car insurance, there is no “no claim bonus” when it comes to pet insurance. If you decide to get your pet insured or change to a different insurer, ANY condition which has been noted in your pet’s history will be excluded, even if it didn’t require treatment at the time.
Here’s an example: Bronco was seen at the vet for a vaccination, and his owner mentioned that Bronco had hurt his right knee recently. The vet examined him but found that there was only mild inflammation and prescribed rest. A few years later, Bronco ruptured the cruciate ligament in the same knee, but in the meantime, his owners had changed insurers for a cheaper company. Because there had been a previous problem with the joint, the new company views this as a “pre-existing condition” and will not pay out for it.
Another example: Muffin has a heart murmur that was detected when she went in to be spayed. A short while later, her owners decided to get her insured, but because the murmur had already been noted, she would not be covered for heart disease.
Company – Do your research. Ask friends or family who they recommend. As with most things, you get what you pay for, and often the cheapest company will not provide the most comprehensive coverage. Find out if your practice has an insurance company with whom they are able to do direct claims, as this can be a lifesaver when faced with a potentially costly vet bill.
Waiting period – Most insurance companies impose a waiting period for coverage, usually around 14 days after the policy was taken out. Don’t wait until you notice a problem with your pet to take out coverage! The best time to insure your pet is the day you take them home.
As a Veterinary Surgeon and pet owner, I urge all my clients, friends, and family to insure their pets, just like I do! My own dog had both hips replaced several years ago and without pet insurance, we could not have afforded $6,000 per hip!
We all want our pets – and yours – to have the best possible care, so when the worst happens, it’s a relief to hear the words, “It’s okay, they’re insured.”
Karyn hails from Queensland, Australia, and has lived in the UK for the past 10 years. She is passionate about using evidence, experience, and owner collaboration to provide the best solutions for pets, and believes in making reliable information about animal health accessible to all. She shares her home with 5 cats, 4 dogs, and 1 husband, and when not practicing as a veterinary surgeon, she spends her time writing, gardening, and cleaning up pet hair!